Last Saturday I finished my final long run before the race. I think it went well. I used a route I haven't seen in awhile (Apparently through a bad neighborhood, though I didn't know it at the time. Sorry Dad). It was very windy, which meant that my out leg was a wee bit easier than the return leg. However, all told, I maintained my pace throughout the run, and when I finally calculated the actual distance, it was a little over 10 miles, at just under a 12 minute mile. This makes me pretty happy. I know, however, that anything can change in a week. I could end up in pain, or it could be exceptionally windy or hilly, or anything, so I won't be disappointed if I can't maintain that same pace.
My goal for this race is to finish safely, without any new injuries, and without being the last one across the line. I don't want to set a time goal, because I don't want to be focused on the time. All I really use my watch for these days is to time my walk breaks (see below). This has been successful, as I have been enjoying the run itself, without the fierce inner competition that got my injured in the first place. That said, I would love to finish in under 3 hours. My first half was 2:14, and my second was 2:01. This will be nothing like those races.
My energy has been great, once I realized that I need to eat later at night before my long run. I've been using 2 gel packs, about every 4 miles or so, with Gatorade in between. I have had some difficulty squeezing in all of my training runs during the week, sometimes skipping an easy run or a tempo. I worried that this might affect me, but I've been happy so far. I really think my strategy in this race will be based on under training. No injuries for me! the only complaints I have so far are some sore hips and knees, mostly in the last few miles. I think this is probably due to the cold, as it's been coming on in the past few weeks. There is no soreness the next day, which tells me I probably don't have an important injury, just joints that are sensitive to the cold.
I'm using a walk run strategy recommended by many sports physicians, including Jeff Galloway. I have found that if I begin my run slowly, by walking often, then building up to longer endurance, I don't lose my steam as fast. I have actually improved my speed this way, as I am able to run faster when I'm running, and also ease impact stress on my shins. My race day goal is to begin with a 4:1 run: walk, then increase my running until I'm running a full mile before a walk break. This actually seems to help my hips and knees, as they tend to hurt like crazy if I walk at the end. this strategy will take self control at the beginning, as I get very caught up in race day adrenaline.
One mental struggle I had when I first came back into training was that I didn't feel like a runner anymore. I felt overweight, tired, and in pain. Every 2 mile run was torture. But I would walk or drive on a route that I used to love, and those feelings of joy and peace of the run woudl come back to me. I longed for that. Saturday on my 10 miler, I felt that peace again. I felt like I was running, and not just pretending. I was a little sad when I got back to my starting place (Even though at that point I was longing for advil), and I just generally enjoyed myself the whole time. I am very excited to be running this race. I haven't run a race since May of 2008. I set the goal for myself in spring, that I wanted to run a half. I didn't run the Labor Day race I wanted to, but I am eventually fulfilling that goal.
It's a beautiful da out today, and I feel confident and prepared. A little nervous, but I can't wait for that finisher's medal and free lasagna dinner at the end. Next goal? We'll see.